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Attempting to go braless in the summertimewith 34DD boobs. 25 on nipple covers as soon as I clicked the “place your order” button. I don’t notice until stepping out of the car in front of a restaurant. 12 jeggings she got from CVS. I am the type of person who waits until her hairdryer is partially melted, wheezing, and reeks of burning before replacing it. Spending so much money on two slim circles of silicone just so I could avoid wearing a bra seemed ludicrous. But several weeks before, I’d pulled on seven different tops in a row before realizing I couldn’t wear any of them without my bra straps sticking out.
70 on one that squeezed my ribs so tight I was forced into good posture. Sure, it wasn’t going anywhere. But neither was I, because it was too damn uncomfortable to wear for any significant amount of time. Upon discovering this, I googled “nipple guards.
When the small, black box of Nippies Skin adhesive pasties arrived at my house, I was prepared to take a peek, deem them unusable, and send them back for a full refund. But when I lifted the lid and ran a finger over one skin-colored, silicone circle, I was immediately seduced by how smooth and supple it felt. And so I removed them from their box and placed them, one at a time, on my nipples, awed by the complete disappearance of my areolae, and of the two tiny eraser tips at the centers of my breasts. I pulled on a soft, ribbed, racerback tank top, feeling it hug my body gently without the rigid barrier of an underwire bra between it and my skin. I looked into the full-length mirror hanging on the back of my bedroom door and was amazed. I wasn’t always so self-conscious about my breasts.
Back in college, when I was a size 34B and valued comfort above all else, I regularly went out on the town without a bra. I didn’t think twice about it. They were small back then. But in the intervening years, I have gained weight.
I have seen my breasts grow full and floppy through pregnancy, early motherhood, and five months of nursing. And are my nipples more sensitive now? Maybe that’s why they always seem to stand at attention. Or maybe it’s just that I am more aware of men’s eyes upon them if I forego a supportive undergarment. Maybe, at a 34DD, I have finally internalized all of the societal messages about the vulgarity of my breasts, of the curve of them swinging visibly when I walk, of the embarrassment of nipples straining fabric. I flatten them and erase them, too, with restrictive sports bras that feel like giant rubber bands, and that leave me marinating in under-boob sweat by the end of yoga class. I strap myself into these instruments of torture and then I spend all day resenting them.
When summer arrives, it’s even worse. All of a sudden, I am expected to bare my back and show off my biceps and play with keyhole tops and plunging necklines because that is what has been deemed attractive. That is what is fashionable. And I have to figure out how to do this without also reminding onlookers that my breasts are anything more than an alluring set of subtle mounds beneath my form-fitting top. This is why I have thrown all of my money at strapless bras and pasties and bra strap clips.